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tv   Nightline  ABC  September 10, 2009 11:35pm-12:05am EDT

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tonight on "nightline," quartering the market. with a new batch of bad real estate news, we look at the convenience store king that's growing fast. and is not just big gulps and slurpees. how is 7-11 is cashing in on the crisis. fbi deep cover. posed undercover as an al qaeda operative and infiltrate home grown terror cells, and now he speaks out for first time. is it possible that this man could have prevented 9-11? plus, politicians gone wild.
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as a congressman's outburst at the president is roundly condemned, a guide to what happens when crossing the aisle ignites a political smackdown literally. captions paid for by abc, inc. good evening. despite signs of economic recovery and plenty of government intervention, the housing market remains in crisis. new data released today shows that we're more than 358,000 foreclosures last month, that's up almost 20% from a year ago. and yet, there are some who have managed to see an opportunity in the midst offed a verse -- of adversity, none more so than the 7-11 franchise. it seems like there's one on
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every corner already burke with rents at all-time lows, there's more to come. >> your local chevy dealer may be gone, and the circuit city where you bought your stereo has disappeared. but over at the 7-11 store, the cash registers are ringing loud. >> we found the day you come into the store as a franchisee, that's the day you stop marketing progress, money, because it's a proven business. >> at a time when so many businesses are shrinking or failing, matt mattu in los angeles owns six 7-11 stores and he's building more. the american appetite for a quick cup of joe and something to eat has combined with the commercial real estate crash to re-energize the familiar old 7-11. >> this is actually a best time to expand because the real estate is easy to get into with less money. and getting to the neighborhood that are run down.
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>> rents are down, empty store fronts are up and 7-11 wants to move in. in the midst of this recession, 7-11 had ambitious plans to expand by the end of 2011 with 400 stores. not only in southern california, but in texas, new york, florida, washington, d.c., baltimore, chicago and denver. >> you know, this is a great example of our growth. this store right here. this store is 18 months old. was an empty vacant space here before in the middle of downtown l.a. we do 2,000 customers coming through our stores every day. >> we visited with a west point graduate who also has training in how to draw one of 7-11 signature slurpees. >> you have to do it your way. so mixing and mashing is encouraged. so you just put the nozzle into the cup and you pour it. isn't that a nice-looking drink? >> very nice, but how is it that 7-11 prospers while so many
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other businesses are hurting? >> what do you do when general motors -- that general motors isn't doing? >> we're not in the car business. >> anything you want any time you want. >> they like to say they're in the convenience business, which isn't just coffee, cigarettes and day-old sandwich anymore. the iconic big gulp drinks and the slurpee remain, but 7-11 is changes its look with fresh fruit, fresher sandwiches and regional items. sushi and burr reiitos in los angeles. and something else in new york. what might be in a store in new york? >> hot buttered roll. if you're in new york, it's the number one selling item. >> when you pour a cup of coffee you can't see it through to the bottom anymore. this company brews 10,000 cups an hour. >> exclusive blend is our number
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one seller. >> colombian is good. i have to say that the brazilian bold doesn't taste that bold. i like my coffee so that the spoon stands up in it. they're trying to sell more upscale goods while keeping the down scale prices and spending $1 billion sprucing up the store. you have to deal with life long perceptions. you know, you're dealing with my perception of a 7-11 in the middle of the night from utah. >> that's right. and we're only going to fight those perceptions one customer at a time. >> they have gone new media. 7-11 is on twitter and the slurpee has its own web page. they found their customers are not just cruising the road, but surfing the net. >> the 18 to 35-year-old customer is really kind of the core of our consumer group. and that's where they're at. they're really in the electronic media world. >> 7-11 is doing well. they're making their targeted profits, but not without some tough decisions.
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they have laid off a couple hundred employees and stopped contributing to the company 401(k) plan. how do you tell them that you're spending money on expansion at the same time we're cutting back what we're giving you the employees? >> well, unlike a lot of companies, we have had the experience of bankruptcy or near bankruptcy. but now this leadership team has really committed themselves to not letting that happen again. >> this chain of more than 36,000 stores worldwide started in dallas in 1927. it peaked at the u.s. in the 1980's. nearly went under with competition from other chains and now is owned by a japanese company that's shown them 7-11 isn't just a truck stop. it's also a walk-in for crowded city streets. >> we are funding the cash flow and at the same time, we're able to pay down debt. and we feel good about our position right now and that's enabling us to grow. >> also enabling them the yard
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sale going on in commercial real estate. the man in charge of real estate travels the country and sees prices down 20% and 30% in some places. you're looking at a lot of vacant lots and empty store fronts? >> yes. we're doing about as much groundup development as in the past, but we're trying to plug into existing strip centers. >> for matt mattu in los angeles right now, it's sure thing. he used to be an aerospace engineer, but now he's building his fortune one hot dog, one slurpee and one cup of coffee at a time. every month our sales are up and up, not down. >> it seems that convenience sells when little else does. this is brian rooney for "nightline" in los angeles. >> a lesson in recession success. our thanks to brian rooney. when we come back, our exclusive interview with a former fbi informant who says he could have stopped the september 11th attacks.
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it was eight years ago tomorrow that 19 terrorists hijacked four planes. crashing two into the world trade center here in new york, one into the pentagon building in washington, and another into a field in pennsylvania. that day will forever be marked by grief for those who lost their lives. it also permanently changed the way lauch works. but is it possible that such a horrendous attack could have been prevented? here's our chief investigative correspondent, brian ross. >> martin, for the last 13 years the man you are about to meet has been used by the fbi to infiltrate and sting alleged terror cells operating in this country. the government says his work has been invaluable in making the
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country safer, defense lawyers call him a master of entrapment against harmless targets. he is out of the shadows, going public in an interview with abc news that the government did not want him to do for reasons that will be obvious. as an undercover operative for the fbi, he was known as mohammed, and he posed as the personal representative of osama bin laden. his real name is elie assad, a 36-year-old native of lebanon, a catholic who pretended to be an islamic extremist. >> my role is to play al qaeda terrorist. man who's coming from overseas to help them. >> that's not entrapment? >> wasn't any trap. >> assad began working for fbi if 1996 and he has played his role to the hit. this fbi undercover video shows him leading seven young miami men in a loyalty oath to bin laden in 2006.
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>> i am representing osama bin laden. >> he persuaded the seven, all young men from miami's inner city, that he had been sent by al qaeda to send tens of thousands on weapons and uniforms. assad then hugged his targets, welcoming them to al qaeda. >> when you are working undercover, your job is to lie. >> then assad seen on tape counting out a thousand dollars for the miami group's leader. it took three tries, but the tape of the money and the oath and assad's performance helped lead to the indictments and convictions of five of the seven men on terror charges. it was a case praised by then attorney general alberto gonzalez as disrupting the group preparing a violent attack. >> we know this because individuals they thought was a member of al qaeda was present at their meetings. in actuality he was working with
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the joint terrorism task force. >> the unnamed individual was elie assad, but over the course of the trials details of his role would lead defense lawyers to call the case a classic example of law enforcement entrapment. >> without his performance none of this would happen. you're dealing with seven inner city kids who are from the city. poor, undereducated. >> this attorney represented one, naudimar herrera. >> it was more like -- it was more like a movie script. >> and herrera says he and the others just played along because they were promised lots of money by assad. >> anybody who is blinded by greed will actually -- you know what i'm saying will be vulnerable to this guy's intelligence. >> another damming piece of evidence was surveillance tapes
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the group's leader made of possible targets in miami including the fbi offices there. all suggested it turns out by assad. is that your job? to suggest targets? >> sometimes you have to see what he's willing to do, what he's capable of doing. >> but many authorities question the true value of such fbi undercover stings. since 9-11 they have largely targeted people who are more aspirational than operational. >> a lot of the cases after-911 were announced by great trumpets by the fbi director so we felt they were doing something, when in fact what they were doing was not helpful, not relevant, not needed. >> and according to assad, the focus on the undercover stings led the fbi to this chance to stop the 9-11 attacks. do you think you could have stopped it. >> yes. >> no doubt about it in your mind? >> did i fail in one case? no.
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>> in early 2001, the fbi sent assad to infiltrate this small mosque outside miami. among the people he says he became suspicious of is the man he would later learn was mow ma'am mad atta as well as other members of the ringleader group. you saw them? >> yes. i even prayed in the mosque, and i went to certain private meetings. >> what about you made them suspicious? >> the instinct that you have inside of you, that's what makes me good at my job. god gave me something, a certain gift in me. >> along with atta at the mosque was another al qaeda figure. adnan shukrujumah now a fugitive with a $5 million u.s. reward on his head. shukrujumah's father ran the mosque that assad infiltrated. >> shukrujumah was trying to invite me to his house, to have coffee, to have -- and to have
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tea. but i was suggested not to do so, not to meet with him, not to be close to him. >> you who directed you to -- who directed you to leave shukrujumah alone? >> the fbi. >> instead, he was set up and sting two of the wanna-be terrorists. in this undercover tape, assad is on the left, shown with one of the wanna-bes. assad arrived with a car loaded with high-powered weapons for mondai. both targets were convicted and sent to prison, but assad said it ended any hopes of infiltrating what turned out to be the real al qaeda terrorists. >> one of the biggest problems when you target somebody is that your energy and focus is on that particular group. you know, unfortunately calls are made where you don't follow
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up on information that's given to you while you're working on something else. >> shortly after the attacks, assad says the fbi asked him if he could identify any of the hijackers, and he did. >> i was very upset, angry. i cried. >> you cried? >> i cursed on everybody. i destroyed half of my furniture. i went crazy. >> you were that close? >> it confirmed what my suspicions were correct. i was right. >> but because atta and his men were suspicious of the fbi undercover man and secretive, the fbi sent him after the easier target and the sure-thing case. >> you could have stopped the attacks? >> yes. i'm not 100%, i'm merely positive. >> assad has been highly praised for his honesty and integrity by prosecutors and law enforcement officials and in a statement
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tonight, the fbi challenged assad's account and said the claims and factual conclusions "are not supported by the evidence". we checked with assad tonight and he says he told us the truth and stands by his story. martin? >> brian ross with a compelling story on the eve of this somber anniversary. when we come back, a congressman's heckling causes quite a stir. but we look at what happens when politicians really go wild in tonight's "sign of the times". welcome to the now network. right now five coworkers are working from the road using a mifi-- a mobile hotspot that provides up to five shared wi-fi connections. two are downloading the final final revised final presentation. - one just got an email. - woman: what?! hmph. it's being revised again. the copilot is on mapquest. and tom is streaming meeting psych-up music - from meltedmetal.com. - ( heavy metal music playing ) that's happening now with the new mifi from sprint--
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president obama's major speech last night about the urgent need for healthcare reform may be best remembered by two words. two words not spoken by him, but at him. and the heckling got us thinking, from flying insults to flying fist, politics sometimes really is a contact sport. and for david wright, that's "a sign of the times". >> the president of the united states. >> the solemn on capes, a certain degree of decorum is expected. heckling the president. >> the reforms i'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. >> you lie! >> that tends to turn a few heads. today, the democratic hoping to unseat joe wilson used the congressman's outburst as a fund-raising tool, raking in half a million dollars in less than a day. >> last evening, i let me emotions get the best of me on
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the critical issue of healthcare. >> tonight an unrepentaent wilsn accused him of trying to muzzle his criticism of the healthcare reform. >> they made it clear they want to defeat me and pass the plan. >> that's about as rough as it gets here at the u.s. capitol, but in way the president has it easy. overseas, politics can be a much more rough and tumble affair. >> could -- >> in britain, the prime minister gets heckled once a week. it's called question time. >> even the bankers have apologized. when is the prime minister going to? >> the prime minister was expected to give as good as he gets. >> mr. speaker, the biggest error of judgment would be to do nothing during this down turn. >> questions and insults aren't the only thing they hurl. tony blair once got pelted with purple powder. >> -- is suspended.
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>> on another occasion a group of protesters angry at the government's ban on fox hunting stormed the common's chamber and tried to abscond with the royal mace. getting smeared by your opponents is not just a metaphor in the u.k. lord mandelson found that out when a protester slimed him. at another -- and another protester hit the former deputy prime minister with an egg. he hit back. john prescott was an amateur boxer. overseas the only political leaders who tend to get a free ride are the dictators. in north korea heckling the dear leader is probably punishable by death. in south korea, it's more muscular. in taiwan, parliament has been known to have food fights. and in baghdad, president bush
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learned quickly how to dodge a flying shoe. overseas, everyone is considered fair game. the prince of wales has encountered not just hecklers, but topless hecklers. even pope john paul had to suffer a heckler or two. the pope true to form chose to turn the other cheek. which is pretty much how the president played it today. >> we all make mistakes. he apologized quickly. and without equivocation. and i'm appreciative of that. >> there are those who believe this buttoned downtown could benefit from a little more instant feedback. >> i think less decorum is a good thing only if you have more contest and more intellectual weight. i think the issue here -- >> if the debate is really a debate. >> if the debate is a debate i don't think it matters how loud you talk. it doesn't matter if you're screaming at the top of your lungs or doing it in signals. >> it's certainly one way to get
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your point across and around the world, it put us in good company. i'm david wright for "nightline" in washington. >> politics certainly not for the meek. our thanks to david wright. we'll be right back.
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